Which is crazy -- I will finish my service in 2014!
Just as a general update from the last post – Thanksgiving in the Oueme-Plateau was a huge success. We had appetizers consisting of cranberries, tomato basil bites, and guacamole. We feasted on candied yams, green bean casserole, 2 types of stuffing, corn, and 2 types of mashed potatoes – chopped carrot sticks, cranberry sauce, corn bread and of course gravy (the wonders of packaged powdered stuff) – and we topped it all of with pumpkin pies and pumpkin cake and candied pecans, and left over Halloween candy– For those non-veggie persons in attendance there was duck – and I am more than sure that I am forgetting something.
We all ate until we were stuffed (as one should for Thanksgiving) and then in true holiday fashion proceeded to spread out and lounge while we looked for a second wind. Papaya had his own turkey duck and cranberry dinner that I brought him from home specifically for the occasion. Making him the only member of the party to actually eat Turkey this thanksgiving – something that other volunteers seemed to get a kick out of.
I must say that both Thanksgivings that I have spent in Benin have been more than memorable with lots of great food and wonderful caring people. Although – the volunteers who have already finished their service must have been more organized than us since THEY thought to take a big group picture last year. Something we failed to remember to do.
Peace Corps has its ups and its downs, but I think that I can honestly say that on average I have been more happy than not. It is just the emotional breakdowns that stand out. Being with so many of my friends over the weekend really helped snap me out of my most recent slump.
I love what I am doing here even if it doesn't always seem 100% effective (but hey that’s PC) – I am glad to be back in the country with my close volunteer friends and my cat who (bless his little heart) only wants to see me happy.
The lessons I am learning here are not comparable to anything else – you learn a lot by living in a culture that isn't your own. New ways of looking at the world around you, and new ways of approaching people.
The things that I really missed about Benin while I was home are as follows:
*you know the drill no specific order/list of 10 :)
1. The warm tropical weather – I don't care how “nice” it was at home for November. It was cold and as we all know I am not a cold weather person.
2. The fact that people know (and care – good or bad) when you haven't been around. As much flak as I received from some people who did not SEEM happy that I had been gone or that I returned. I also had many people in my village who were thrilled to see that I had returned. Specifically certain people who I walk pass everyday who it would not have occurred to me – as a westerner – to even mention my absence to – were truly concerned when they stopped seeing me.
3. Being around people who understand what I am going through here.
4. My two favorite Beninese beverages. Sodabe. Bissap.
5. Fried plantains.. Fried soy sticks.. Fried dough... Fried things.
6. People GENERALLY on an interaction to interaction basis are much warmer and friendlier here in Benin... Yes this is directed at you Barnes & Nobles employee who made me cry.
7. Napping – or really just down time in general. I barely got a chance to breath when I was home.
8. I missed the rice and bean lady.
9. The clothes here really are just that much more fun to wear.
10. Lastly, I missed the ridiculous, interesting, informative, frustrating and entertaining conversations that I have here in Benin on a daily basis. The mixture of things that are said to me daily definitely keep me on my toes.
So there you have it. In my favorite list making fashion.
Have a great week,